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Mali asks France to pull out troops 'without delay'

Mali government spokesman   -  
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Mali's army-led government asked France on Friday to withdraw its troops from the Sahel state "without delay", calling into question Paris' plans to pull out over several months.

A government spokesman added in a statement announced on public television that the results of France's nine-year military engagement in conflict-torn Mali were "not satisfactory". 

Spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga called the French withdrawal a "flagrant violation" of accords between the two countries. "In view of these repeated breaches of defence agreements, the government invites the French authorities to withdraw, without delay," he said.France's troops will leave Mali "in orderly fashion," President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday, in response to a demand from Bamako's ruling junta that the force depart "without delay".

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he was withdrawing troops from Mali after a breakdown in relations with the nation's ruling military junta.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply after Mali's army seized power in a coup in 2020, and later defied calls to restore civilian rule swiftly.

The French pullout after nearly a decade is also set to see the smaller European Takuba force of special forces, created in 2020, leave Mali.

In response to the demand, France Emmanuel Macron told a media conference after a summit in Brussels that, while the French soldiers will withdraw in line with his announcement a day earlier, they will do so in a way to continue providing protection for the UN stabilisation mission in Mali, MINUSMA, and other foreign forces in the country.

"I will not compromise for one second" on their security, Macron said.

France currently has some 5,000 troops deployed across the Sahel as part of its anti-jihadist Barkhane force -- the majority in Mali.

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